TECHCET 2016 forecast: $1.39B in photoresists, $680M in extensions

Photoresist manufacturers had reason to smile as fiscal 2015 closed, with sales growing nicely to $1.37B, a 6.2% increase over 2014. That bump has to sustain them through 2020, according to a new report from Techcet Group, “Critical Materials Report: Photoresists and Extensions and Ancillaries 2016.” Total volumes for photoresist and extension materials continue to grow with wafer starts, although revenues are expected to hover around $1.4B for the next 4 years. Growth from wafer starts in partially offset by reductions in photoresist thicknesses for critical layers in leading edge devices.

Virtually all of the growth in lithography materials can be attributed to volume growth in advanced nodes. While the 5 year CAGR outlook for silicon wafer starts is -2% for the 45nm node and larger, that same outlook is +10% for the 28nm node and smaller. ArF (193nm wavelength) resists already comprise over 40% of the total market. Extreme ultra-violent lithography (EUVL @ ~13nm wavelength) remains in the forecast for 2020, but it will be limited to mix-and-match implementation at the 10nm node due to its premium cost and low throughput. Nano-Imprint Lithography (NIL) is in limited use by one Asian memory fab. Multi-patterning with 193nm immersion will remain the workhorse for all leading edge IC fabs.

The category of resolution “extension” materials to enable finer feature patterning grows out of the segment for bottom anti-reflection coatings (BARC) and spin-on hard-masks (HM), which can be combined with a top layer of photoresist in a so-called “Tri-Layer Resist” (TLR) approach. Extensions also include specialty chemical formations to “trim” lines by removing photoresist material, or to “shrink” holes by adding material to sidewalls. The extension materials market is now the fastest growing segment, already at $650M in 2015 it is forecast to reach $790M by 2020, as detailed in TECHCET’s Report.

The photoresist ancillary segment that includes strippers/removers, developers, edge-bead removers (EBR) and specialty solvents is expected to suffer a slow decline from today’s $600M to $575M by 2020, primarily due to volume reductions associated with thinner photoresists. Also, ancillaries are generally sourced in large quantities from local suppliers, and regional pricing pressures further depress revenues in this sub-market.

There are six major suppliers controlling 90% of the global resist market, with a total of eleven key manufacturers offering standard and advanced photoresist products and critical ancillaries. JSR and TOK share 53% of the market, with others at 12% or less. In addition to market analysis, critical supply chain issues and technical trends, the report includes profiles and updates for major suppliers of photoresist and related materials to the global semiconductor industry.

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